A Christmas Competition Special! Featuring Higgledy Piggledy Jazz

Here is a competition just for Christmas; a little something to say a big thank you to all my readers for their support during 2013. I am offering the chance to win one of Elena Cobb’s Higgledy Piggledy Jazz piano volumes; a superb and highly acclaimed piano series for all those who want to play jazz and who want to learn to improvise. All you have to do is leave a comment in the comment  box at the end of this blog post and the winners will be selected at random on Monday 23rd December 2013. Elena has kindly donated all four volumes in her collection (pictured above), so there will be four winners! What are you waiting for? Get writing! If you do comment please leave your full name – thank you.

Higgledy Piggledy Jazz focuses on encouraging young pianists (and older ones too!) to get to grips with the jazz idiom and crucially learn to improvise (a form of ‘free’ playing where a pianist composes ‘on the spot’). This is a challenging task, but piano students definitely benefit from being exposed to all styles of music, and jazz is often ‘left out’ in formative training because it’s difficult to assimilate and complicated to teach (especially if, like myself, the teacher has very little aptitude and understanding of this genre).

Elena Cobb, the author of the series, has addressed this problem, breaking down all the misconceptions and difficulties. Her books are easy to understand, beautifully presented and cleverly constructed, leading pupils through the complex steps of basic improvisation extremely effectively. You can read my review of the Higgledy Piggledy Jazz Series here.

The philosophy behind Elena’s books is very simple, she wants classically trained pupils to have an opportunity to learn to improvise and play jazz; “I know too well how scary it is to step away from the safety of the musical sheet and to burst into spontaneous improvisation. Please do not panic! Instead, think about having a go. My music is written for classically trained teachers and pupils, and those who are keen to try. Sections for improvisation with simple suggestions are added in several pieces. These offer great opportunities to break away from the mould. The bass clef is coloured to match three chords in the twelve bar blues. So, take a deep breath and go for it, what you have got to lose?” Elena also believes that piano playing for beginners should no longer be such a solitary business. She wants young pianists to have more opportunities to perform with other musicians, and remarks, ‘to begin with, performances need not be perfect! Improvisation is always a work in progress!’

The Higgledy Piggledy Jazz apps, developed for iPad, Android and web by the British company WebPractice, will be released early in the new year with the official launch during the MusicExpo event on the 7th and 8th of February 2014 (in London) where Elena will be presenting a workshop on improvisation for classically trained beginners.

Elena is also presenting an EPTA double book presentation at Foulds Music Store in Derby, on Saturday February 15th at 12 pm. I will be presenting a talk all about my book, ‘So You Want To Play The Piano?’ and Elena will be leading a workshop on improvisation for classically trained beginners based on her Higgledy Piggledy Jazz method. Exciting stuff! So do come along if you are in the area.

Elena’s tunes have been selected to be set pieces at two music festivals next year. Dulwich Music Festival 2014 in the UK, where ‘Super Duck’ will be performed, and also at the Gibraltar Festival for Young Musicians 2014. A cup for the best jazz performance named after Elena Cobb will be awarded at the Gibraltar Festival for Young Musicians for the very first time. Performers can choose to play any of the tunes from the Higgledy Piggledy Jazz Series – piano, alto sax & classical guitar ensemble.

New books include ‘Cloud Seven Latin’ arrangement for jazz band, which will be premiered by NJYO in the Spring 2014. A ‘Circle of Life’ for piano is aimed at pianists of intermediate to advanced levels, again premiered in Summer 2014 and ‘Higgledy Piggledy Jazz‘, or the ‘Importance of Being Happy’, a toe-tapping musical, the premiere of which was sold out at the Ashbourne Festival earlier this year; this score will be released in the Spring 2014.

Four of Elena’s compositions were recorded by the UK’s sax legend Snake Davis, saxophonist for Eurhythmics and M People, and right now are available to listen to on Elena’s Soundcloud. Higgledy Piggledy Jazz  has been critically acclaimed; the International Piano Magazine wrote (in October 2013) that ‘This is a hugely enjoyable collection of six original, well crafted and highly accessible pieces for grade 6+ players in need of some light-hearted pianistic relief.’

So if you haven’t yet discovered this excellent series, do enter the competition.

Here are a few clips of Elena’s compositions:


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40 thoughts on “A Christmas Competition Special! Featuring Higgledy Piggledy Jazz

  1. I’ve not heard of this series before, but it does sound exciting and useful, especially to the pianist in today’s musical world. While reading music and being detailed in Classical music is the norm, exploring jazz and being able to improvise is an important skill. Any series, including Ms. Cobb’s books to promote that is great! Pianists have to be versatile. Once they leave school, such as playing at parties, reading out of a music book only works so far until someone requests “Happy Birthday” (in the key of C) and there is no music to be found at the moment. This series looks exciting, and glad it’s being shared.

  2. I would love to get the chance to introduce these series at my school in Berlin, Germany. There are many students eagerly waiting to try them!

    Greetings from spiral school of music!

  3. This is exactly what beginning pianists, and those who are more experienced need – to be able to ‘play away from the book’ and enjoy being a musician whilst understanding the ‘formula’ (keys, modulations etc) Thank you Elena!

  4. I’ve always enjoyed listening to jazz, but never been able to play jazz or improvise. So, when i read about this series in your blog, i got excited about it! The idea of being able to just sit at the piano and play something without reading from the book is amazing! I’ve always wanted to learn how to improvize and play jazz, but wasn’t sure that was even possible for amature pianists, like me .
    So, i’ll be more than delighted to get a copy of this series:)

  5. Wonderful material and thanks for the chance to win this! Today’s learners need creative and exciting resources and teachers are grateful when they find these!

  6. My son has Higgledy Piggledy Jazz for alto saxophone and he loves playing it and experimenting with solos. I’d love to win a copy of Higgledy Piggledy piano to introduce the series to my pupils.

    • Hello Juliet! What a lovely surprise and unexpected pleasure to read a comment about the sax edition! Have you seen the instruction video for the book recorded by Sophie Freeman, who is the editor? Here it is anyway, just in case! May I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! xhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuEJY999iPw&feature=c4-overview&list=LLbnttDRhuOW4R1wWdhbU7kg

  7. Age is not important, although most adults prefer more serious looking books to learn from, they also sometimes like something attractive and interesting 🙂 I teach more adults than children so I like something new to peek at

  8. This is something I am particularly interested in. Improvisation just wasn’t taught when I learnt to play and is something that I am actively trying to introduce to my own pupils in an easy to understand, imaginative and enjoyable way. This series appears to do just that so I am very interested to learn more about it.

  9. I’d love to win a copy! Would be great for myself and for theyoung pupils I teach. Looking forward to exploring the series.

  10. I’ve heard quite a bit about these books recently so would be lovely to explore them further with my students. ..particularly the improvising.

  11. Oh gosh, precisely what I need!
    After travelling along the classical road my whole life, (which has been amazing) it’s always been a desire of mine to explore jazz and improvisation. It’s been on my ‘to do’ list the past few years but wasn’t really sure how to go about it. This series looks like just what I’d need plus something I could also pass on to my students.
    Very exciting!

  12. Having completed my LRSM and MMus this year (as an ‘older’ person) I am seeking styles outside of classical to give my brain something else to chew on for a while…although I am still working through some Chopin too…

  13. I’ve been classically trained my whole life, and always been terrified to improvise. Hopefully something like this can really help me.

  14. This is great! I firmly believe that developing improvisation skills is an essential part of the training of a pinist, or a musician, in general. Jazz is the most natural approach to do this. Great work! congratulations! and merry Christmas1

  15. I haven’t seen this series before, but I’d love to give it a try! I have a couple of students I’m introducing to the basics of jazz piano. Also in the US :p

  16. Would love this to help my students improvise. I think it is so important for classical pianists to learn jazz skills.

  17. Is there a place to order this book in the USA? I had an order ready to push send and then I “chickened” out. My students would love the pieces…we just finished a series on the blues and
    “Higgledy Piggledy Jazz” would be a great follow-up!

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